When you think of an NBA players’ diet, you probably imagine them carefully planning every meal to ensure that it has the proper balance of vitamins, protein, and other nutrients. Before he reached the professional ranks, though, Vince Carter did things a bit differently.
Like plenty other college students around the country, Vinsanity had some less-than-ideal eating habits during his time at the University of North Carolina. As a Tar Heel, Carter was known to enjoy a daily biscuit sandwich and indulge in a side of macaroni and cheese.
Vince Carter started his rise to stardom at the University of North Carolina
Over the course of his NBA career, Carter suited up for eight different teams across 22 campaigns. Before ever reaching the Association, though, he started out at the University of North Carolina.
Although the small forward didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard during his freshman year, he still saw plenty of success in Chapel Hill. Playing alongside Antawn Jamison and the rest of a talented Tar Heels squad, Carter reached consecutive Final Fours in 1997 and 1998.
While he never quite claimed an NCAA title, Vinsanity didn’t have any problem making his own headlines. As documented in an Athletic story about his college days, Carter could dominate anyone on campus in a pick-up game, throw down rim-rocking slam dunks, and do all sorts of “Michael Jordan-type s—.” He also averaged 12.3 points across three NCAA seasons and earned plenty of ACC honors.
After his junior season, the Florida native decided that it was time to leave campus. He entered into the 1998 NBA draft and briefly joined the Golden State Warriors as the fifth overall pick before a trade took him to Toronto.
Fueling his college career with biscuits and macaroni and cheese
For those who know the University of North Carolina, Time-Out Restaurant stands tall as a 24/7 beacon of Southern cooking. Vince Carter, it seems, was a devoted fan of their work.
“The whole time he was at Carolina, he ate Time Out. A chicken cheese biscuit with gravy on it,” Antawn Jamison told Brendan Marks of The Athletic. “After my freshman year, I’m like, I’m timed out of Time Out. I can’t take it no more. I remember our junior year, we moved into the same apartment complex, and he still — every night — ate Time Out. Like, Vince, really? He’d get that [biscuit], the macaroni and cheese.”
While biscuits may sound small, things are a bit different in Chapel Hill. As Ademola Okulaja, who both played and lived with Carter, confirmed, these “sandwiches were not regular-sized. Like, quadruple Whopper-sized, one on top of another. All greasy. Just humongous.”
That size, however, wasn’t enough to dissuade Vinsanity. He kept up the routine and, on some days, would even put down two sandwiches.
“At least once a night, sometimes twice a day. Before he went to bed, that was his go-to meal. Even after he had dinner or whatever,” Jamison continued. “We’d have had dinner, sitting there chilling, and he’s like, ‘Hey man, I’m about to go to Time Out.’ It’s like 2 o’clock. ‘You’re hungry? For real?’ ‘Yeah, you want anything?‘ [laughs] ‘Nah, man, I’m good. You have it.’ It threw me off. He did it every night until we graduated.”
Vince Carter eventually changed his diet and had a lengthy NBA career
While biscuits, macaroni and cheese, and gravy might not be the cornerstones of a healthy diet, those meals didn’t stop Vince Carter from making it to the NBA. As he spent more and more time in the Association, though, he realized that something had to change.
In a 2017 GQ interview, Carter discussed how his diet evolved over the years. “I try to eat lots of vegetables and greens. I like foods that fuel. I’m a sweater, so I prefer pasta for my pre-game meals most of the time. I don’t drink soda because I lose so much [fluid] when I play that I need to replenish,” he explained. “I don’t really eat as much fried food as I would have when I was younger because my body can’t shed it as fast. I’m able to have more bad days than the average older guy with just the way my body works, but I don’t take advantage of that. I know I can get away with bad days, but I don’t do it all the time.”
That effort, along with his attempts to drink more water and digest his food better, certainly paid off. The small forward spend a record-setting 22 seasons in the NBA, becoming the first person in league history to suit up in four different decades. Even in his final season, the high-flyer still averaged nearly 15 minutes per night.
After the 2019-20 NBA campaign conceded, Carter finally retired. At that point, he would have been well within his rights to enjoy a celebratory chicken biscuit.
Stats courtesy of Sports-Reference.